RUSSELL, Pa. – While Eisenhower’s first outing of the 2021 season wasn’t a flawless masterpiece, the Knights defense pitched a shutout and the young skill players did enough offensively for a 14-0 win over Saegertown.
The Knights will try to go 2-0 on the season, and in Region 2 play, when they travel to Union City Friday night for a 7 p.m kickoff.
The Bears are coming off a 22-0 loss to Cochranton and will be playing in their home opener.
The Knights’ defense, which was somewhat overlooked during the 2020 season, picked up right where it left off a year ago and held the Panthers to just 147 yards of offense.
“We had a 7-man platoon of defensive lineman (last year) who just rolled and rolled and rolled,” Eisenhower head coach Jim Penley said before the game. “We brought back a large group of guys who’ve already done it. You bring back two all-star linebackers in (Gannon) Jaquay and (Benji) Bauer. It’s great to have that level of comfort knowing those guys have been in it. They’ve done the job.”
The front seven, in particular, was dominant against Saegertown. Eisenhower racked up 14.5 tackles for loss and five sacks. Bauer and sophomore Tucker Lindell led the team in tackles with eight each. Lindell added 3.5 TFL. Junior Mike Beaver had seven tackles (three for loss).
Lindell, Mike Jones, Caleb Penley and Drake Vanderhoof each had a sack, while Bauer and Connor Younger combined for another.
The offense was efficient in generating 351 yards, with 299 of those yards on the ground, but turnovers kept the Knights from putting the Panthers away early.
Rewatch the game here:
Keegan Eckstrom led the way with 11 carries for 124 yards and a touchdown. Benji Bauer ran for 88 yards on 15 carries and Shawn Pascuzzi had eight carries for 45 yards and a TD.
In his first start at quarterback, Garrett Jenson went 6-9 for 61 yards. Bauer had four receptions for 43 yards.
Eisenhower could look to improve the offense in two key areas, the vertical passing game and turnovers.
Five of Jenson’s six completions went to running backs, while the sixth went to WR Camron Jakubczak for seven yards.
“Jenson has been the backup for two years now, he knows the offense, he knows what he needs to do,” Penley said.
The Knights also lost three fumbles in the game, all three inside the Saegertown 30. Ball security was something Penley said would be stressed during practice this week.
The Bears are trying to stop a 3-game skid stretching back to last season. To do that, they’ll have to find a way to get their offense going against that stout Eisenhower defensive front.
Union City put up just 66 yards of offense against Cochranton, all on the ground.
Owen Kerns was the leading rusher with 56 yards on 15 carries. Clay Thomas had 18 yards on 12 rushes.
Quarterback Kyler Shaffer attempted just two passes. Both fell incomplete.
Cochranton ran all over the Bears’ defense to the tune of 234 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Union City did force a pair of fumbles (both recovered by Thomas).
Kerns (7) and Shaffer (6) led the team in tackles.
Friday’s game will be carried by McCray and Son Broadcasting, and links to view the contest will be provided once they go on air.